This esports pictogram is the least athletic thing we've seen

Commentary: It certainly won't be winning any medals at this year's Asian Games.

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Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
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eSports Asian Games Japan Qualifier
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At the 2018 Asian Games, esports will be included as a demonstration sport for the first time. Hooray!

And with its inclusion comes an entirely new pictogram! You know, those cute, stylized images of human beings performing various sporting activities? They're at every Olympics! They're a universal language! There've been some really cool concepts over the years, including the pictograms used at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, which consistently featured a boomerang design. Fitting.

At the 2018 Asian Games, there're some great, official pictograms

But the current unofficial template for an esports pictogram certainly isn't one of them. (Thankfully, it doesn't currently show up on the Asian Games events page.)

This idea though? The thing looks more like a math problem than a pictogram for an official sport at a major multisport event recognized by the International Olympic Committee. "Dave is sitting at his laptop playing video games . What angle is his arm at? Show all your working out." 

Then again, if you squint and read left to right, you might be able to make out the word "LiT", using the laptop; the athlete's arm and head; and the table.


This pictogram is most certainly not lit.

Wikimedia Commons

There's some junk in that trunk, and to be honest, I'm not even sure that's great posture.   

The Asian Games are the second largest multisport event behind the Olympics, so it's a pretty big deal for esports to be included in the program -- even if it's only as a demonstration event and no medals will be on the line. It might seem a little over the top to make a big deal of the pictograms that are used as a basis for these events, but as esports continues to push into the mainstream, even simple things like the totally-not-ergonomic template used here tend to make the gap between esports and "traditional" sports even bigger.

Then again, the Asian Games will also feature the card game bridge -- and for medals, no less -- so where do we draw the line between esports athletes and those who participate in wrestling, cycling, canoeing or, well, card games?

At least the bridge pictogram is a bunch of card suits. Exciting! Hopefully by the time the esports competition kicks off, on Aug. 26, we'll have a much more comfortable-looking pictogram to talk about.

The esports discipline will feature 18 nations competing in six different video games: League of Legends, Hearthstone, Pro Evolution Soccer 2018, Starcraft II and the mobile games Arena of Valor and Clash Royale. It's expected that the 2022 Asian Games will have participants going for gold.

The opening ceremony for the 2018 Asian Games is set to take place Aug. 18.

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First published Aug. 16, 8:34 p.m. PT
Correction, Aug 17 at 6:14 p.m.: The pictogram featured is a generic, unofficial template.

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